Michigan’s Battle Against Illegal Gambling Goes Global At IMGL Conference

Written By Matthew Lomon on April 19, 2024
Outline of the state of Michigan with an American flag on it next to the words

Michigan’s gambling authority recently escalated its crusade against illegal gambling to international heights.

Representing the US during last week’s International Masters of Gaming Law 2024 Spring Conference, the Michigan Gaming Control Board outlined its approach to dismantling illegal wagering operations both domestically and offshore.

The conference, which unites a portion of the IMGL’s 300-plus members under one roof, featured a panel discussion moderated by Florida Gaming Control Commission Executive Director Lou Trombetta. This particular conversation focused on the need to balance the goals of regulation with the realities of the gambling industry.

It was here that Henry Williams, the MGCB’s well-versed Executive Director, detailed Michigan’s anti-illegal gambling strategy.

MGCB leader uses Michigan’s approach as guide against illegal operations

Inside a Tampa Bay Marriott conference room, Williams expressed the importance of thwarting unlawful operations to an international audience. The MGCB’s leader used Michigan’s successful, no-nonsense approach as a proper example:

“If people choose to ignore the law and don’t do what’s legal, we’re going to find them and hold them accountable for their actions,” said Williams. “In Michigan, the Michigan Gaming Control Board has made it a priority to do everything we can to protect our state’s citizens from illegal gambling market operators and our legitimate gaming industry from being tarnished by its illegal counterparts.

“We have a zero-tolerance policy towards illegal gaming activities.”

For any skeptical onlookers, the proof is in the pudding. In 2023 alone, joint investigations with the Michigan Attorney General’s Office resulted in the removal of 167 illegal casino-style gambling machines from circulation.
According to the MGCB, last year’s investigations specifically led to the seizure of 79 illegal gambling machines. Further, nine individuals received criminal gambling convictions and 24 were arraigned on illegal gambling charges.
The state’s zero-tolerance policy towards illegal wagering activities continued earlier this year. Three illegal online casinos that were operating in Michigan sans-license received cease and desist letters from the MGCB. The MGCB said that following the letters, each company acted accordingly to prevent Michigan residents from gambling on their websites.

Collaboration is key for combatting illegal offshore activity, per Williams

While collaboration is a crucial aspect of any strategy, Williams said a macro approach works best for combatting illegal offshore activity.

His message began by nailing down the basic tenets of strong regulatory frameworks, i.e., transparency, accountability, and compliance. It then continued by emphasizing the importance of communication among global stakeholders.

The IMGL conference served as the perfect vessel for this message, as the panel also featured speakers from Malta, Belgium, Canada, and the Eastern European nation Georgia. Like Williams, the group of global speakers touched on the matter using examples from their home jurisdictions.

Also discussed were the regulatory challenges that modern-day communications and technologies create for online operators, as opposed to land-based operators.

Although the details of these conversations remain scant, it appears Michigan played a starring role during the summit.

Photo by PlayMichigan
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Matthew Lomon

Matthew Lomon has been a contributor at Catena Media’s network of regional sites since July 2022. He first broke into covering the legal North American gambling industry with PlayCanada. Since then, Matthew's reporting has extended to PlayMichigan, PlayPennsylvania, and PlayIllinois. Based out of Toronto, Ontario, Matthew is an avid (bordering on fanatic) sports fan.

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